Many people have a laundry list of things they'd never do as parents, like leaving their child unattended in a car. Still, as much as parents claim that they'd *never* take certain risks with their kids, sometimes there are moments in life when you think it's OK to let your guard down for a moment. But as this viral car thief video shows, people can't afford to ease up on their list of parenting rules, even if it's only for a second. As scary as it might sound, the worst can happen in an instant.
In 2017, about 765,484 vehicles were reported stolen in the United States, according to the Insurance Information Institute. That's a large number, to say the least, and the statistic demonstrates that there many opportunities out there for people to steal vehicles. But as common as car theft is, it's not as common for a thief to encounter a baby in the back seat of the car they just stole.
Frighteningly enough, this exact situation happened in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday after a then-unidentified suspect allegedly stole a running car from a local gas station around 4 a.m. Eastern Time, according to the Miami Herald. Unbeknownst to the supposed thief, however, a 5-month-old baby boy was sleeping in the backseat of the car at the time it was stolen. Although it's unclear when exactly the suspect realized a baby was in the car, it's obvious he panicked once he took notice of his unintended passenger.
Footage from a surveillance video taken at a nearby gas station shows the suspect parking the car and then struggling to remove the baby's carrier from the backseat. The video is chilling, to put it mildly, because you can see the suspect hastily trying to rid himself of the baby as quickly as possible.
Once the suspect finally managed to remove the baby from the backseat, he frantically runs over to the gas station's convenience store in an attempt to get the attending clerk's attention. Once let inside, the thief signals for the clerk to call 911 amid alleged cries of, "Take the baby,” according to The New York Times.
You can watch additional footage of the suspect's interaction with the store clerk below:
The good news is the baby remained unharmed during the entire ordeal, and he was reunited with his mother 30 minutes after the 911 call, according to the Associated Press. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office also confirmed to the Sun Sentinel on Thursday that its deputies have arrested 23-year-old Marquis Hudson on charges of grand theft auto and kidnapping. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to Romper’s request for comment.
As for the mom in this case, one can imagine she intended to leave her child alone in the car for a brief period of time, a theory that's backed up by the fact that she left the keys in the car's ignition. And while there could be a million reasons why the woman decided to leave the baby in the backseat, the most likely scenario is that she didn't want to wake her child up from their nap. In short, there's a good chance this mom let her guard down because it was easier to do so at the time — and it's a mistake any parent could easily make given the right circumstances.
Still, many people are bashing the mom on Twitter, and one person even called for the parent to be shot.
"Whoever left that baby in the car should have his/her parental rights terminated or shot," someone wrote, according to Twitter. "Mom/dad or whoever, got lucky that the thief had mercy on that baby! Even banged on the gas station door! Took better care of it than person that left it!"
Someone else added:
Let me just say, the guy who stole the car with the baby still inside and dropped it off at a gas station 6 miles away is more responsible than the parent who left the baby alone in the car in the first place.
Others were more sympathetic to the mom's plight, with one person writing to a critic, "I can tell you have no kids. it’s beyond unrealistic to expect the mom to haul the baby into the gas station."
Another sympathizer chimed in: "He stole a car that had a baby in it, so he dropped her off at a different gas station. That poor mom.. that would be terrifying."
Although this debate is an interesting one, there's a more important issue at hand than who's at fault in this situation. Blame game aside, this story is an important reminder to parents to stay alert and aware of their surroundings at all times. Precaution is always best, even if you think the situation might not warrant it. Of course, this doesn't mean parents should live life on edge and in fear of the worst scenario 24/7 — this video should simply encourage parents not to take unnecessary risks with their kids.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.